Raeleen's Story

What an amazing and beautiful weekend, it made me want to RUN! And run I did, along with another thousand people in the Oak Bay Half Marathon & Relay. Last year was my first year participating in this event and it was pooring rain, I got sick for three weeks after and lost my voice - but of coarse not my ability to write ;). This year it was beautiful, hot, and a fabulous day because I was running again. 4K in 24 mins, I’d say pretty awesome time given I hadn’t been running for about six months. But this post isn’t about me, it’s about a fabulous woman who I am blessed to have met through Biggest Winners who accomplished a huge feat. She went from a non-runner to completing the half marathon in 2:09.

This is Raeleen before I met her...

And this is Raeleen now...

She started her weight loss journey at 193 pounds in July 2011, since then she has lost 33 lbs and looks absolutely fabulous. 10 years ago Raeleen was petite at 130 pounds but over a ten year period gained 63 pounds, yo-yoing around the 150’s and 160’s for most of it. Here is Raeleen’s story…

What made you decide to make a change in your health?
I thought starving myself was the only effective way to lose weight. I knew it was never sustainable but I didn't know what else to do. I didn't believe exercising worked...I'd sweat my butt off at the gym on a treadmill for 30 minutes 3 times a week, be bored out of my mind doing it, and would see no difference. Over the last 5 years I started to educate myself on nutrition, what sustainable weight loss involved, and I finally knew what I needed to do but was unable to commit and take that plunge. In 2010, I had a newborn, my MBA to finish and part-time consulting work which consumed all my time and I chose not to spend or make time on myself and my health. All my baby weight gained stayed, despite breastfeeding for 6 months. There came a point when size 14 clothes were getting tight yet I refused to set foot in a "plus size" store, so I was like a sausage encased in my clothes every day. Not 15 minutes went by that I wasn't reminded by tight clothes of how big I was getting. Finally last June 2011 I graduated and finished my MBA, and made a pact with myself that I'd spend as much time on getting healthy as I did on my MBA for the past 3 years. My family celebrated my graduation in Hawaii and I hate every photo of myself from that trip--I couldn't believe what I looked like sitting in the sand on a beautiful Hawaiian beach...I felt like a whale. A friend of mine recommended BDHQ as she'd lost about 60 pounds through their baby bootcamp...here she was with a baby as old as mine but she looked and felt amazing and I...did not. Finally I decided to walk into BDHQ as intimidating as it looked from the street and sign up for Biggest Winners. I didn't think too hard about what that would entail--I just was desperate to DO SOMETHING.

What made you decide to train for a half marathon
I always admired people who ran 1/2 marathons. 21K seemed like an insurmountable distance to me. I could barely run 1K in July when I started BW's last year. My lungs were so tired even after running 10 minutes. But by the fall of last year Lovisa took some of us out for a long run one Sunday and we clocked it as 12km--just like that I suddenly realized I had passed that mental hurdle in my head of 10K. I had never run that far in my life and it was pretty easy. I realized that day this fear of a half marathon was totally in my head. Of COURSE my body would do it if my mind told it to! all this time my mind had been telling me "you're not a runner. You get tired easily. you carry all your weight in your torso which your little legs have to cart around for hours. You can barely do a 10K race without wanting to barf and then die. So obviously a half marathon is not in your cards, EVER." Once I put those thoughts to rest, there are 2 people in BW who inspired me to sign up - Bri and Nicki. If they could do it, so could I. they helped me see that if you tackled the training in a methodical way, ran slowly, and just put one foot in front of the other, you'd get it done. They helped me envision what it would take from my starting point of training to race day, and everything they said was right.

Describe what running means to you
I love the peace of mind it brings most of all. Sometimes, on a beautiful day, when I set out for my run, I get teary eyed in the first kilometre. I'm just so excited that I have an hour or more to myself (rare for a mom of a toddler), excited that I've come this far where my lungs don't give out and I can just enjoy seeing the ocean or some beautiful part of our city each time, and I feel so blessed that I'm able to run in the first place (as so many people can't). I also love how I feel after a run--it's such a good use of my time as it's good for my soul, my mind, my body, and everyone else who encounters me for the rest of the day (as it kind of is a mood enhancer)!

What does this accomplishment mean to you?
Last night before the race I laid in bed thinking about how I'd already won on so many levels. The race day is just one day when you hope all things align (weather, heat, wind, your energy levels, your mind, your feet) and you do your best. But everything leading up to that day is really the accomplishment. Signing up for the race is win #1 because it signified my mind had put to rest those excuses I'd allowed in before about not being able to do this. Training consistently was win #2 because it builds confidence.. Every week I celebrated running longer and farther than I'd ever ran in my life--so every week I was winning something in my head. win #3 was finding out I was pregnant (I was already running 13K by then) and deciding that this would also not be an excuse to pull out of the race. i didn't want to do anything stupid that would hurt me or the baby, but it made me more determined than ever to run the race. The goal of doing it as fast as I could switched to just being able to finish safely. Getting up early on weekends to run 14+ km's while being nauseous and overtired was so difficult. I wanted to quit many times but I kept saying to myself "you have come this far, don't let yourself down." The last few weeks before the race have been really difficult. I've gained weight, my lower belly is sticking out, it feels like I have a full bladder all the time I'm running, and worst is the joints and ligaments in my lower abdomen and pelvis have all loosened up to the point where I strain and pull something every time I run and it takes days to recover. But I knew if I could run 21K having trained through my first trimester there is absolutely nothing I can't do in the future

What did your training plan look like?
I have Nicki to thank for my plan... Started in February running 10K. My weeks after that looked like: 12K, 10K, 12K, 14K, 12K, 14K, 16K, 19K, 20K, 10K, 10K, race day 21K. Nicki enforced the importance of taking it easy in the 2 weeks leading up to the race despite the natural concern that you'd "lose" what progress you had made running long distances in the weeks before.

What gave you the motivation to keep training?
I wanted to make a story for myself to reflect upon later in life if I ever encountered any hurdles or mind games about achieving something in the future. I also told everyone I knew that I was going to do this so I couldn't let them down!

What’s next for Raeleen?
I definitely want to run another half marathon again...maybe one that doesn't have so many hills! I want to work on my speed for the next time as I had to give up that goal this time around. If someone wants to challenge me to a marathon after that....I suppose I would have a hard time saying no!

What is your biggest lesson from this experience?
My learning from this experience is that a half marathon is possible for anyone--you just have to work hard. there is no secret to success and there is no such thing as luck in running long distances. "winging it" or relying on natural born ability results in failure in almost everything in life and half marathons are very unforgiving that way too. some of us may have been born with a great "runner's body" but that means nothing if you don't train...people who look like they can barely run will pass you by if you have that mindset. It's amazing what your body can do when you make your mind up that you are going to run a half marathon!

Thanks for sharing your story with me Raeleen, I’m so very proud of what you have accomplished. You set your mind to this goal and you achieved it, regardless of any hurdles. You prove every day to me that anything is possible. My favourite quote is “Of COURSE my body would do it if my mind told it to!”, I’m going to have to tell my mind to be focused on my own training and be patient. Anything is possible if we set our minds and focus our intentions in the right direction. And PS, my new goal is to rock that blue dress of yours!


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